So far, one of the NFL’s biggest stories of the 2019 season is the emergence of Gardner Minshew. Currently the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting quarterback, he’s becoming one of the league’s most popular players. So how did Minshew get here, and what makes him so interesting?
Gardner Minshew’s college career
Minshew played three seasons in college: two for East Carolina and one for Washington State. Below are his career numbers at the collegiate level:
- 761 completions on 1,168 pass attempts
- 65.2 completion percentage
- 8,266 passing yards
- 62 touchdowns
- 20 interceptions
- 138.7 QB rating
Minshew received two awards during his final season: the 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for the Most Outstanding Senior Quarterback and the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
Minshew performed well at the NFL Draft Combine but didn’t blow anyone away. He ran a 4.97 40-yard dash, jumped 33.5 inches in the vertical, and jumped 116 inches in the broad jump. NFL.com gave him a prospect grade of 5.16, which equates to a “better than average chance to make an NFL roster.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Minshew in the sixth round. With the team signing former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Minshew did not expect to see much playing time. But this changed when Foles broke his clavicle in Week 1. Suddenly, Minshew was a starting QB.
Minshew’s strengths and weaknesses
Through Week 5 in the NFL, Minshew has performed well above expectations, according to Pro Football Reference data:
- 2-2 win-loss record
- 1,279 yards passing
- Nine touchdowns to one interception
- 66.7 completion percentage
His play has kept the Jaguars’ playoff hopes afloat. At 2-3, the team is still within striking distance in the AFC South. As a player, Minshew doesn’t have the best accuracy even though he’s limited turnovers in his short time as a starter.
The 23-year-old does have great arm strength and an ability to evade defenders. Minshew is a mobile quarterback, which is almost a necessity in an age of speedy pass rushers.
What makes Minshew the ‘NFL’s Most Interesting Man’
Jaguars fans have responded to Minshew beyond his play on the field. They enjoy him for his personality, causing “Minshew Mania” to take the city of Jacksonville by storm. We broke down the situation, and we think Minshew is popular for three primary reasons:
- His play on the field: Minshew has done more than enough to keep the Jaguars in contention.
- His wardrobe: Fans love the wacky outfits he’s worn before and after Jaguars games, making him a viral sensation on social media. To be fair, some of these get-ups were from his Washington State days, but they didn’t become well-known until Minshew made it to the NFL.
- His mustache: The Jags’ faithful can’t get enough of Minshew’s signature facial hair.
Minshew’s ‘stache is so popular, the Jaguars are handing out 35,000 fake ones at home games for the fans to wear. They’ll also award 10 Minshew jerseys to fans who cut their shorts into “jorts.”
With Minshew playing at a high level and his persona being such a hit with fans, it’s enough to question whether Jacksonville will face a quarterback controversy once Foles is eligible to play again. He’s expected to return around Week 11. If Minshew has the Jaguars hovering around .500 in a winnable AFC South Division, returning to Foles may not be the best move.